Alice in Sunderland: or, I stole my wife’s birthday present

As Alice herself said, ‘what is the use of a book without pictures?’

Alice in Sunderland
Yes, I have to confess that for once I read the book before she has. And it was the one our dear boy bought his mother for her birthday! Alice in Sunderland by Bryan Talbot is sub-titled ‘an Entertainment’, and it certainly is. As Alice herself said, ‘what is the use of a book without pictures?’ This book consists entirely of pictures – with accompanying words, of course. And what a terrific range of styles he uses! The epigraph quotes some fine chap called Edmund Miller: ‘Reality is not enough; we need nonsense too.’ Quite right, of course.

So if you want to find out about the history of the Sunderland Empire (no, it’s not like the British Empire – it’s more fun, even if 191 children did die there in a tragic accident in 1883), the origins of ‘Mackem’ (and why they hate the Geordies), and what it all has to do with Lewis Carroll, get hold of a copy of this book and find out for yourself. There are even pages by Hogarth and Leo Baxendale, creator of the Bash Street Kids. The title is so good it must have been used before, I thought – and it has, as the book tells us, in 1965 by the Shadows.

You don’t have to have Sunderland connections to enjoy this book, though of course it helps, nor do you need to be a Carroll enthusiast. But don’t just take my word for it – see the review in The Observer, where it’s described as ‘one of the most exhilarating books I’ve read in years…. a minor masterpiece’. Then add your own comments right here!

Look new, feeling blue?

Visitors to the new pages on the First World War, on finding out about names on war memorials and on Remembrance Day texts, will have noticed a new, blue look. The look has also been applied to a few other pages as they’ve needed updating, though I’ve not dared yet to take the home page.

What do you reckon, folks? The new style, like the old one, is borrowed from another site – this time from someone offering design ideas, so I don’t feel bad. The Actis style I ripped off for the previous look was not only old-fashioned (even Actis had abandoned it), the company doesn’t even exist…. I spent a while (too long) experimenting with colours – are these cool or drab? The use of a style sheet (impressed?) should make it easy to change colours, though I’d need to spend a while finding a range of tones to keep a similar range of (subtle?) contrasts.